PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR BRANDING: IV A Post-Mortem

This is the fourth blog in a series addressing an author’s travel and public speaking engagements [see Effective Materials for Public Speaking, All the World’s a Stage, and Public Speaking to Enhance Branding III].  

In September, I had the opportunity to make a promotional road trip to my home town of Portland, Oregon. There I attended the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class and introduced myself to several audiences via speaking engagements at creative writing classes in my old high school and a combined meeting of American Association of University Women book clubs in Lake Oswego. How did my planning for Public Speaking engagements mesh with the actual experiences? Were my own preparations adequate? What were the final results?

TRAVEL
~ I found that shipping books and marketing materials in advance really proved useful. Not only was I assured they had arrived safely, but once I had completed my appearances, I was able to pack the remaining items into the spacious luggage I had taken for that purpose.

~ During my research for this trip and future ones, I opted to join an international hotel group that awards points for each stay. The one I chose provided: Transport to area restaurants and businesses; buffet breakfasts which provided quality nourishment that lasted most of the day and permitted taking food back to one’s room; and, there was also a 25% discount for all dinners, including those for which I hosted guests.

~ Since the penalty for altering flights was the same as emergency rescheduling, I did not purchase airline tickets that allowed changes to be made…but I would have done so if my itinerary had been more complex.

~ With today’s complex public safety rules, I had to carry multiple small containers of toiletries, snacks, and food supplements, which I divided between carry-on and checked baggage. And, in case my checked bag failed to arrive, my carry-on pieces included: clothing, accessories, and necessary paperwork for public appearances.

~ Because I was having dinner with a friend [and former theatre director] shortly after my arrival, I was not able to schedule an initial day without activity. But the following day I enjoyed a delicious lunch at the O`hana Hawaiian Café and a memorable tour of the city with my editor, while moving from a hotel near the airport to one near my engagements.

~ I was truly grateful to be able to avoid renting a car. Although I tried using share-ride transportation, I found it too awkward to schedule repeat transport with drivers I liked, and the cost was not substantially less than a highly rated traditional cab company.

~ Financially, I travelled with ample cash for tipping those who rendered excellent service. As I encouraged readers to purchase books through their favorite local stores or on-line, I made only a couple of cash sales, even though I was capable of taking credit card payments.

PUBLICITY AND MARKETING
~ Since my events were not open to the general public, there was no reason to generate Media Releases.

~ I did add a news page to my author website and referenced my travel on Facebook.

~ At the reunion, I followed the organizer’s suggestion and served Hawaiian macadamia nut candy and discussed the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery series.

~ I will soon post a picture with my editor taken at a book club meeting I addressed.

APPEARANCE
~ I followed my own advice regarding maximizing the expression of one’s personality and profession. Because my writing focusses on Hawai`i, I wore tropical print jackets and a large name badge throughout my trip—with ample business cards at the ready. I’m happy to report that this facilitated my conversing with numerous people I would not have otherwise met!

 ~ One of the greatest impacts on selecting appropriate clothing for the eight days was the weather, since the Northwest was becoming colder and wetter than in my home of Tucson, Arizona. Despite necessary increases in the number of items I carried, my planning for multiple events proved to be appropriate.

~ Except for when my editor joined me in speaking to the book club, I was the sole presenter and did not need to coordinate my attire with that of other speakers.

~ In addition to my tropical-themed wardrobe, I accessorized with a necklace of my design and the name badge that features my personal logo. I also wore a realistic appearing artificial orchid in my hair, which I wore pinned to one side and heavily sprayed to remain in place for several hours. 

 SETTING THE STAGE
~ While it was not appropriate to hang a banner from podiums, my colorful attire proclaimed my personal style and the nature of my writing.

~ I positioned my presentation outline, large watch, and water appropriately.

~ I set up a colorful display with marketing materials, books, and information request sheets. These items were placed within clear acrylic stands on a multi-level tablescape covered with purple and gold tablecloths, and a scattering of shell leis and tropical flowers.

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER PERFORMANCES
~ I provided event organizers with my bio and a short introduction in advance of each event.

~ Since the venues at which I spoke were small, I did not need overhead projections or a sound system. I merely arrived with a spiral bound binder with my presentation, potential readings, and handouts. [I also carried notes for unexpected issues that might arise, and backup electronic files.]

~ Merely walking through cold air provided physical warmups; I was limited in my ability to warm up vocally.

~ By using an annotated outline rather than scripted presentation, I was able to make periodic eye contact with my audience…Letting attendees feel I cared about them individually.

~ Despite allergies affecting my breathing, my voice was strong enough for the demands of my public speaking. Having trained for the theatre since childhood, I am fortunate to have a skill set that is compatible with vocal projection for one to two hours! One of my favorite activities was sharing the voices of characters from Prospect for Murder [available as an audio book], Murder on Mokulua Drive and the forthcoming Murders of Conveyance.

~ While I had practiced reading from my annotated outline as well as the handout I had prepared, the free-flowing dialogue that developed in more than one presentation precluded adhering to a strict time table. My primary challenge was ensuring I had covered each of my main points before the conclusion. Fortunately, with a large watch positioned beside my presentation material, I was able to pace myself…allowing appropriate time for Q&A to maximize audience interaction.

 ~ I concluded each presentation by holding up a pin with a single inspiring word…IMAGINE!

~ I carried Thank You cards and gifts of Hawaiian candy to maximize each event’s long-term branding value.

Let me close my report on employing public speaking as a marketing tool by encouraging you to consider venues and events in which you can express yourself personally, as well as professionally. I had a wonderful time in my recent journey to the city of my youth. I saw friends and acquaintances with whom I have had little contact for decades and reaffirmed my love for the work I do. If you decide to embark on promotional road trips, I urge you to choose your trips carefully, plan each aspect of your journey as much as you can…and have a wonderful time at each juncture of your experience! You never know what you’ll encounter, or what may emerge from such explorations. I’m delighted to report that I may be appearing at an author night in Hawai`i in 2019…

For more ideas to maximize being memorable, see Wearing your Brand at my marketing website.

Wishing you the best,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, and public speaker

Public Speaking to Enhance Branding III

A shortened version of this blog first appeared on  https://hometownauthors.com, which offers a variety of articles from guest authors of who are members of Hometown Reads.

This is the third blog in a series addressing an author’s public speaking engagements [see Effective Materials for Public Speaking andAll the World’s a Stage] Today we’ll explore making these events more than a presentation of an author’s books, for public speaking can be one of the most important aspects of any creative professional’s branding program

It’s time to hit the road!  You’ve prepared for speaking opportunities by shaping marketing materials, bios, introductions, and handouts for varied audience.  Your media releases require only the details of Who, What, When, and Where You’ve verified venue features and obtained equipment necessary for this and future appearances.  

All you have to do is pack everything and hit the road…right?  Not quite.

PREPARING TO BE A PUBLIC SPEAKER
I hope you’ve been vocalizing daily—in song [for those who can], vocal exercises, and oral readings.  Many events place a time limit on speakers, so timing readings can ensure completing your presentation with a generous Question and Answer segment.

Next, consider your appearance. You can’t lose weight quickly, but how are your hair, skin, and nails?  Do your clothing and accessories look good on you…and travel well? Perhaps you’ve worked with a stylist to determine your optimal color palette, hairstyle, clothing designs, and accessories to maximize expressing your personality…

Look professional, knowing you can remove a tie, loosen a collar, or remove a jacket. [See Resume and Career Tips.  Because my work centers on Hawai`i [especially with the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries], I wear dresses in tropical greens and jackets with Asian or floral designs.  Depending on the neckline, I affix a name badge (with magnet) and avoid necklaces (which can become uncentered).  To minimize distraction and sound interference, I don’t wear dangling earrings or loose bracelets.  I complete my theme with an artificial orchid for my hair—since fresh flowers don’t last through multi-hour events. 

MULTIPLE PRESENTERS
Panel discussion speakers are usually seated at a table or in a semi-circle or line of chairs. Whenever you’re in plain view, be aware of your attire and stance…to insure you’re not providing a less-than desired floor show! A dress that looks lovely when I’m standing, may not look professional when I’m seated. Male or female, check out other participants’ attire to harmonize overall appearance. For samples of color combinations, please visit Plays on Color.

CALLING FOR ATTENTION
~ Event organizers may generate Media Releases, as can you—in your hometown and locales where you’ll appear. Consider also sending out event follow-up releases, to encourage members of the media to seek you out.

~ Add a news page to your author website and blogs that highlights your travel.

~ Social media can be more important than traditional media.  Publicize where you’ll appear with contact information. If your events aren’t open to the public, announce cities where you’ll be.

~ Take event pictures [book in hand] for immediate release and future marketing materials—asking permission to use images featuring other people.

TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONS
~ Ship books and some marketing materials in advance when possible.

~ Allow one day for rest and preparation prior to your event.

~ Purchase travel tickets permitting change of schedule.

~ Plan ground transportation minimizing strain on you, as well as cost.

~ Hotels often provide airport transport, valets, safes, and restaurants. Private hosted accommodations lessen privacy.  A B&B may be appropriate when driving.  

~ Financially, notify credit card institutions you’re travelling. Obtain cash for tips. Determine if you need a tax or sales license. Decide whether to accept credit cards, electronic payment, and/or cash for sales.

~ Carry emergency clothing, accessories, medicines, and toiletries in hand-held luggage, in case checked bags fail to arrive.

~ Personally carry hardcopy masters and electronic files for reproduction.

~ Dress to attract attention while travelling—name badge, book image, and business cards at the ready!

SET YOUR STAGE…WHEN YOU CAN
~ Place a banner or picture on podium front.

~ Check lights, sound, and projection equipment.

~ Position speaking materials, large watch, laser pointer, pen, props, travel mug with slightly warm water.

~ Display signage, marketing materials, books, handouts, and sign-up sheet for future event notifications near the entrance—manned when possible.

~ Be aware that electronic projections often fail because of file format incompatibility between source and venue operating systems and versions of software.

~ Maximize visibility of necessary folders and files.

~ Carry backup hardcopy of your presentation for you and handouts of primary points for your audience.

BEFORE, DURING & AFTER PERFORMANCES
~ Warm up vocally and physically.

~ Provide your bio and a short introduction to event organizers.

~ Pace yourself…allow time for Q&A to maximize audience interaction.

~ Conclude with an inspiring thought. I often hold up a pin with a single word appropriate to my message…

~ Make periodic eye contact with your audience. Let attendees feel you care about them individually.

~ Sending gracious Thank You cards/gifts helps maximize an event’s long-term branding value. Carry mailing labels, packing supplies, and postage.

For more ideas to maximize being memorable, see Wearing your Brand at my marketing website.

Wishing you the best in your creative ventures,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, and public speaker